Since Ronald Reagan left officeand particularly after his deathhis shadow has loomed large over American politics: Republicans and many Democrats have waxed nostalgic, extolling the Republican tradition he embodied, the optimism he espoused, and his abilities as a communicator.
This carefully calibrated image is complete fiction, argues award-winning journalist William Kleinknecht. The Reagan presidency was epoch shattering, but notas his propagandists would have itbecause it invigorated private enterprise or made America feel strong again. His real legacy was the dismantling of an eight-decade period of reform in which working people were given an unprecedented sway over our politics, our economy, and our culture. Reagan halted this almost overnight.
In the tradition of Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Kleinknecht explores middle Americastarting with Reagan’s hometown of Dixon, Illinoisand shows that as the Reagan legend grows, his true legacy continues to decimate middle America.